Where there is failure, there is blame. The last place we want to look to for blame is in ourselves, but it is usually the first place we should look. Even though we are only two days post election, we are probably tired of the analysis of the election and the blaming: Sandy, Christie, strategy, entitlement, immigration,,,,whatever else.
Let’s look at ourselves, and by “ourselves” I mean Catholics. The Catholic Church is not a moral voice in the public square, it is the moral voice. If immorality is winning, then that means we are failing. The Church is not a failure – the Church lives the suffering of her Bridegroom, but she also lives the triumph. However, we members of the Church do fail to live and to love as we ought.
Here are some of the ways in which I see that we have failed that may have had a direct effect on the re-election of an immoral president.
- Edward Kennedy’s funeral. This is probably not at the top of anyone’s list, but I think it is something worth considering. Edward Kennedy’s public life was a disgrace. Whether or not he repented as death neared I do not know, but since there was no clear statement of his rejection of his actions that went directly against the Church, then the public perception is that he died as he lived. What sort of a funeral was he given? The funeral of an American hero, presided over by two Cardinals, in a magnificent setting and televised for all to see. The President was also given a pulpit. The argument given for such a funeral was basically that we can’t judge. We can and must judge and the judgment on the public life of Kennedy is clear. He could have been given a Church funeral without pomp and circumstance and without a television audience. That would have demonstrated both the hopeful message of the Church for all sinners, but at the same time made a clear statement that consistent and persistent actions of those entrusted with power that are contrary to the Church will not be rewarded or ignored. His funeral suggested that what we do during our life doesn’t really matter. Death clears everything up, and we will all live happily ever after no matter what. Before death comes, “Catholic” politicians who say and do anti-Catholic things, must be admonished publicly.
- Two church communities. In parish after parish across the United States there are two communities that mingle very little: those who attend the English Masses and those who attend the Spanish Masses. Here’s an example. At St. Helena’s parish in Fort Morgan, Colorado, there were two priests. Both priests were fluent in Spanish and English and both said English and Spanish Masses, heard confessions bilingually – were involved with both communities, but one was a Latino and one was not. The Latino priest was to be transferred, so a going away dinner was to be held. Everyone was invited. Father Mauricio had recently come to the emergency room to anoint Mom. I looked forward to thanking him and wishing him his best in his new appointment. I walked into the parish hall about half an hour after the farewell dinner had started. The room was packed. I scanned the room and could not see a single other non-Latino there. I felt immediately uncomfortable, saw a long line of well-wishers waiting to speak to Father and decided to leave. I have heard that in Colorado the Hispanic vote was 80% for the winner and that nationally it was 70% or so. Why are immigrants who are traditionally Catholic voting for candidates who are directly and unabashedly anti-Catholic? We need to consider this.
- Catholic Education. Knowledge is not virtue, but ignorance and confusion aren’t either. Why are so many children from Catholic homes educated in public schools where what is taught is directly against the Church? How can we expect to save the soul of our nation if our first interest is not the salvation of the souls of our children? Money, transportation, facilities – the list of reasons is much longer. Catholic education needs to be more accessible. In Colorado there are a significant number of small Christian high schools where there are no Catholic schools. The Catholic schools that do exist are large. Catholic schools need not try to compete with public schools in the non-essentials. Here in Colorado, for example, if a school does not offer a particular sport, a student is allowed to try out for a team at the nearest school that does offer the sport. So one does not need to begin with a gym, auditorium, cafeteria, etc. One needs to begin with a chapel and classrooms and teachers who are dedicated to the Faith and love their students. Every diocese should be looking to increase the number of Catholic children who receive a Catholic education by encouraging home schooling and by increasing the number of schools – diocesan or independent – so that more Catholic children will be educated in the Faith and Catholicism will not be a Sunday Mass experience only. This could also be a first step in getting the Hispanic and non-Hispanics together. Bi-lingual schools could do this.
- Articulation of the Natural Law. We saw in Missouri and Indiana how the inability to make clear pro-life arguments is costly. We have the truth on our side, and there are surely times when we have the opportunity to advance some truth with a good argument. We need to be able to do so readily in a clear, concise and cogent manner. My mind works in syllogisms and once I have the syllogistic argument, I am content and uninterested in more. But syllogisms aren’t convincing. We need to be able to do more than state that abortion is wrong because it is the taking of an innocent life. We need to be able to “give life” to the child in our argument. There’s all the facts about the baby’s development, but the only one I can ever remember is that his heart starts beating at 21 days. Are we able to argue against euthanasia by presenting the principle of proportionality in giving care to the feeble? Where does one begin in arguing for true marriage as the only marriage and the marriage act is just that? Then there’s contraception to be articulate about. I think part of the problem is that it is not pleasant to give a lot of thought to these things because it entails giving significant thought to sinful acts. It would be far better if we never had to think about such things at all. Unfortunately, in our day and age we do not have that luxury.
- Mass-going Catholics. We have already talked about the Hispanic Catholic vote, but the total Catholic vote even among those who attend Mass regularly was not good. I don’t remember the percentages. I think that the previous argument about the natural law applies here. If the typical Catholic does not have firm in his mind and heart what the Church teaches, then he is vulnerable to the arguments from those who promote immorality in the guise of openness, inclusiveness, lovingness and whatever other types of arguments are simply, and apparently convincingly given.
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I was exposed to some of the pop-psychology books that came out. The one I remember best was I’m OK, You’re OK. No matter what, so the argument went, we were all doing ok, and there was no reason to be worried. Do your own thing and be happy doing it. Perhaps we have insulated ourselves from the modern culture. Now we might say, “I’m ok and I really can’t be worried about whether you are ok or not, and probably you aren’t, but that is your fault.” That’s too long for a title to a book, but I think it might be how we sometimes think. Now I think that we must consider that the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization is calling us to have a different mindset. Society isn’t improving with the way that we are doing things now.
Maybe we need to be creative and bold. If the Catholic vote became solid on the non- negotiables, then the Church would be more vibrant and elections secure.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.